U.S. Markets closed

Cognizant ups salaries by 25% for some India employees amid lockdown

By Chris Thomas and Anuron Kumar Mitra
The Cognizant logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto

By Chris Thomas and Anuron Kumar Mitra

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp will pay an extra 25% of base pay to some employees in India and the Philippines as a majority of its offshore workforce work from home amid the coronavirus pandemic, taking on extra work, Chief Executive Officer Brian Humphries said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the country's 1.3 billion people to stay indoors for three weeks in the biggest lockdown anywhere, shutting down Asia's third largest economy and leaving millions of economically vulnerable people without work.

The Philippines Congress earlier this week granted President Rodrigo Duterte extra emergency powers in a bid to avert chaos from a rapid spread of coronavirus. It was also the first Southeast Asian country to adopt lockdown measures.

"We are all dealing with a crisis that brings new challenges every day. Even with all of the preparation and foresight ... it's hard to imagine that we or anyone could have developed a playbook to anticipate the full impact of COVID-19," Humphries said in an email to employees seen by Reuters.

In India, where the New Jersey-based company employs around 203,700 workers, the lockdown has thrown life for many into chaos as access to groceries and other basics has become difficult.

"I appreciate that many of you are working extremely long days, weekends included. Some of you have given over virtually all of your personal time to helping clients and colleagues," Humphries said, adding that the extra pay will be processed with the April paycheck.

Employees up to an associate level will be eligible for the extra pay.

India's huge outsourcing industry has been struggling with the work-from-home scenario, caught unawares as companies try to figure out business continuity plans.

Cognizant, which in India, has enabled work from home operations by provisioning new laptops and encrypting desktops for employees, as well as providing additional bandwidth connectivity.

The additional pay-out will cover more than two-thirds of the India-based workforce.

"(The company) is experiencing the effects of this public health emergency on both the demand and fulfillment sides of our business, from London to Mumbai to Manila and New York," Humphries said.


(Reporting by Chris Thomas and Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru, Editing by Nick Zieminski)